It was good to see one of the Extensive Reading World Congress plenary speakers, William Grabe, end his presentation with a call for more research. In opposition to the previously quoted nonsense about research from Nunan (formal experimental research in ELT is "useless") and Larsen-Freeman ("insight rather than proof should be the standard of research"), Grabe recognized that if Extensive Reading (ER) is to be brought further into the mainstream then what is needed is proper experimental research providing hard evidence of ER's efficacy.
But such calls are not enough. Ben Goldacre in his brilliant book, Bad Science, notes that the phrase "There is need for more research" has been banned by the British Medical Journal for many years on the grounds that it adds nothing. Instead, academics need to get specific -- what research is missing, on whom, how, measuring what, funded by whom, to what timetable etc.
So this moment should not be lost. If the case for ER is "inescapable" then let's make it unassailable. Specific proposals for research should be detailed and funding applied for.
What funding? Well, a remark I heard at the final plenary revealed a possible benefactor. Apparently, Pearson generates more cash from graded readers in Japan than from any other ELT source. This sounds likely, and in any case, readers are big business for publishers. Should they not be donating money to organizations (perhaps like the Extensive Reading Foundation) to oversee research into the efficacy of ER?
Such research, providing hard evidence of the effectiveness of ER, would be a win for teachers, students and publishers alike.